This is why prison is better than mental health services.

I am known for bringing up controversial topics. This is going to stir up strong opinions from those that have relatives or friends in either prison or mental health units. I am going to make this comment as I’ve experienced both in my life and can therefore make a comparison. I am being honest from my experiences within both environments. I fully understand if others do not agree.

I thought prison was better than mental health services, including secure units, because the mental health services always put their service users down. They never truly believed in any of us. This meant that none of us felt that we could truly progress in life. It isn’t like that in the prison system. We go in there and even those with mental health problems have a chance of employment or some form of earning money. We are constantly encouraged to do better. On the outside we are stuck without employment because of the stigma. Out here all we get is punished for mental illness or autistic traits. Mental health services try to punish or medicate mental illness without the positive reinforcement. The reason why there is technically a revolving door of regulars going into prison is because they feel that someone believes in them in there. This is what a lot of them don’t get on the outside or in mental health units because they’re seen as incapable and never get the chance to progress in life. 

One thought on “This is why prison is better than mental health services.

  1. Although I’ve no experience of prison and have a bit of an irrational fear of what it must be like, actually what you say doesn’t surprise me in the least. It shouldn’t be that way, but my experience of psychiatric hospital is that you’re simply locked up and forgotten about for the duration, with no help, no therapy, no counselling and nothing to do. No freedom, no pastimes, just the absolute minimum required to meet their legal obligation of preventing a risk to oneself or others (in fact I think only the latter is relevant: though I wasn’t directly a risk to others my attempts to be a risk to myself were rather bothersome).

    The one positive thing in contrast to what you have described, albeit probably sheer luck more than anything, is that the food was very, very good. But other than that it sucked.

    Pretty much everyone says the same thing as you about mental health though: services are inaccessible, if you do access them they have nothing to offer except drugs, which are really only meant to stabilise you while you get stuff together and not be a solution in themselves; but counselling and therapy cost money, as does helping to sort your life out, so forget that. And the stigma: even something as basic and widespread as depression carries enough of that and can cause all sorts of trouble in itself: bad enough to make you unemployable but not bad enough to be seen as a reason to be unemployed. Nice. And with other conditions it’s all downhill from there. I don’t know if I would’ve admitted to being autistic when I was younger had I known it was a thing; nowadays I find it helpful to know it’s the case and therefore other people, but the younger and more reticent me, probably not. Because society (at least as defined by the people who influence it: individuals are often kinder) is not very tolerant.

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